tv The Communicators CSPAN October 10, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
.. post last week on "the communicators" we talked with the chairman and ceo of lightsquared. a lot of political and scientific interest in the nationwide rock band system that lightsquared is trying to build across the u.s., and this week we are going to look at some other perspectives on the issue of lightsquared.
now joining us is representative paul broun. he is the chairman of the science-based technology subcommittee on investigations. congressman broun the recently held a hearing around lightsquared. what was that hearing about and what did you learn? >> guest: and we have been trying to get information from lightsquared because the information that we have been able to ascertain does far is that this ground-based broadband network that lightsquared wants to put in place is being fast-tracked through the fcc and this administration is pushing the fcc to approve lightsquared's spectrum which is right adjacent to all the gps spectrum. everything we hear from all experts is that the spectrum if it is ground-based is going to interfere with everybody's gps in their cars. it is going to interfere also with the highly technical gps's
that the science community utilizes and the aviation community utilizes an particularly that the military uses so the high percentage of gps probably is going to be interfered with by lightsquared's going ahead with their ground-based system. now the spectrum was designed for a very low intensity signal that was designed to be a signal that was broadcast for satellites, but lightsquared is trying to push it through and this administration seems to be doing also. we have written a lot of documents. the administration has stalled on it. peter, this is just another example of how this administration gives political favors to which major contributors. the fcc chairman is a good example, has donald over $500,000 to the administration.
the ceo and the major stock owner of lightsquared has given the maximum contributions to this campaign, to the obama campaign. they have in fact -- they said updates to see senior administration officials the same day they wrote these checks which kind of smells to me. and the administration has not given us the transparency that we have asked for. this administration has asked or has told the american public is going to be totally transparent but it has been very obscure and they have looked locked every effort. not only that. when we had the hearing on september the eighth, it was almost a cookie-cutter type of testimony from the administration officials that came before us. the day after we had our hearing general sheldon was at the house armed services committee and also testified on this issue and he has publicly said that this
administration has put pressure on him to change his testimony. this is deplorable. it is ridiculous, and i'm just very concerned. lightsquared is subject to make aliens of dollars in profits if they can be given this spectrum and the administration is doing everything that they can to fast-track it through the board. it has been fêted before we have any answers about interference with gps and every expert that we can get and have come before us has told us that gps is definitely going to be affected by lightsquared's ground-based broadband spectrum. we have got to stop this. >> host: what did you learn from, when you have the national
oceanic and atmospheric administration there and you have the department of administration -- had your hearing. was the fcc present your hearing? >> guest: no, they were not. they refuse to come and we requested a lot of different documents, e-mails etc. and they have just not been forthcoming at all about these documents. they have just stonewalled and done everything they can to for prevent us from getting the information we need. we had the oversight. we have the responsibility of making sure the american public but particularly the u.s. government entities such as our u.s. military come is not going to be harmed by the spectrum but the obama's administration is just forcing it through without fitting it and without doing anything and not giving us the -- so we can know what is going on. they are trying to do this on a fast-track so that the potential investors will go ahead and invest in this business that is going to give the major people
who own lightsquared the kind of profits that will be tens of billions of dollars. it is going to be the expense of the military and particularly the aviation community as well as government entities such as no and other entities that require this high precision gps measurements. lightsquared is going to interfere with those from everything we can ascertain at this time. the fcc needs to stop trying to fast-track this and we need to do everything we can to make sure that we have a proper vetting of everything dealing with this spectrum before barack obama gives these and this administration gives these political favors to his major contributors. >> host: when we talked with mr. ahuja last week he talked about the vetting process and here is what he had to say. >> the process that is really relevant in 2002 and 2005
process. 2010 relative to the changing control was a very long, seven months long process, okay? i don't know how it could have been a longer and more detailed and more comprehensive process. this is as comprehensive a process as i have seen anywhere globally. >> host: congressman broun? >> guest: he is absolutely wrong. they say that they can have filters. they have made arrangements with the company to come and to give us filters that supposedly will not -- will prevent the interference but we don't know. how can we now? we need to have that informatiot writing big checks to the obama campaign. the people all involved across the board with lightsquared,
multiple of the major people with the company have written big checks to the obama campaign and, they are trying to force it through the fcc. the fcc has given preliminary okay's to go ahead and we just don't know. it needs to be slowed down. we need to have proper vetting and we need to find out what the situation is. this whole spectrum was not designed for me land-based broadband. there are other companies also. this administration is picking winners and losers in the winners are the people who write the checks to the obama campaign. this is just like solyndra. this is another one of these cases where the obama administration is trying to force the american people to accept something, to give tremendous profits to obama's lyrical supporters and it's just not right. >> host: you were not seeing promise in a technology that lightsquared is proposing? >> guest: we don't know. that is the thing about it.
there is a tremendous potential. everything we can hear, there's a determined is potential that lightsquared his ground-based broadband is going to interfere with high precision gps. if it can be prevented, fine, but the administration shouldn't be picking winners and losers. certainly they should not be trying to force things through the fcc and through the regulatory bodies before we have a proper vetting, just like solyndra. we are getting almost daily information about how there were many warning signs down the road through the bush administration. in fact the bush administration refuse to give them the loans. the obama's administration just forced it through. why? because they were big supporters of the president and this is the same thing that is happening here. the fcc who was a big supporter, the big bundler for the administration is taking care of
his bedding set looks like to me and the military could be harmed. commercial interests could interest could be harmed and solyndra, i'm sorry, lightsquared is saying that all of this -- i've got an aviation gps and lightsquared is saying that they need to spend the extra money. it anybody in the aviation as well as they said they would give $50 million to the government for filters but the expert tell us the filters are going to cost billions of dollars, 50 million is not going to scratch it, so we have just got to slow this process down. it has to be vetted. we need transparency from the administration. we need to have all the requests granted and give us the information we need so that we can really look at this and understand what is going on before this administration, before the fcc oks lightsquared going ahead with their ground-based -- .
>> host: in a letter september 22 john holdren the director of the office of science and technology policy, you us tempers and documents. what did you ask him for? this was all the republicans on your committee signed off on this letter but no democrats. >> guest: that's correct. we asked for a lot of documents, e-mails, scientific documents come anything that we could get from the administration, but they stonewalled. we can't get the information from noaa. we can't get the emperor -- any information from the department of homeland security and we can't get any information from the administration. they are withholding it. we have the responsibility of making sure the taxpayers dollars are spent wisely and taxpayers are not going to be harmed. their jobs are not going to be harmed by with this administration is doing and they are stonewalling all at the same time they are trying to force
through the okay for lightsquared to be able to put in place their ground-based broadband system. it's not right. i am just asking all the administration to produce what we need to be able to get this and the fcc needs to stop this process until we can get that information and we can go forward in a transparent way so we can find out what scientists and what the ramifications of the system that lightsquared wants to put in place. >> host: you put in october 7 deadline in your letter. if you don't get the information what happens next? >> guest: we are going to keep on trying and we will use every tool that we have. >> host: including subpoenas? >> guest: if we have to come absolutely. and we have that power. we have the power to subpoena people if we need to come absolutely we will do that. we have got to get this information.
it is very timely that we do it, so if we don't hear anything by october 7 we are going to start knocking on the dorgan very strongly. >> host: representative paul broun is chairman of the space subcommittee on investigations. he is a third term republican from georgia. he also happens to be a medical doctor and as he said an airline pilot. a civilian pilot, that's right. >> guest: it uses gps and i'm really concerned about that and concerned about the housewives who have a gps in their cars to try to find out where they pick up their babysitter and lightsquared very possibly, in fact probably can't interfere with her gps. we can't have that happen. >> host: up next we are going to talk to a gps manufacturer. now on your screen is jim kirkland who is vice president
and general counsel of trimble navigation. he is also a founding member of the coalition to save our gps. he joins "the communicators" from mountain view, california. first off mr. kirkwood what is trimble navigation and what is the coalition to save our gps? >> guest: sure, peter. triple navigation is the leading manufacturer of gps equipment for commercial industrial use that we focus on high-end industrial applications like agriculture, construction, surveys and you name it. the coalition to save her gps was founded after an initial fcc decision last january granted a waiver to lightsquared to proceed with its buildout of its network and our mission is to educate policymakers on the gps industry and the implications of that proposal, and we have been very active on that. >> host: jim kirkland last week on "the communicators" we talked with sanjiv ahuja the
chairman and ceo of lightsquared and essentially what he told us is he understood the concerns and what they have done is, they have moved their spectrum usage as far away as possible within their spectrum from gps units to mitigate the danger. >> guest: sure. so, the issue here is that the technical evidence so far from the fcc still shows interference even from these modified plants and plans and that interference affects things like plans -- planes trying to land safely, managing logistics and training our troops stateside, farmers using precision agriculture to more efficiently manage their farms, and a gps industry is committed to following through with that process and trying to figure out if there is a technical solution but so far no technical solution has been proven to the satisfaction of the fcc. >> host: so, is that the technology itself the troubles
you or where the spectrum is located, or what? >> guest: so the interference issue can arise from a couple of things. one way you manage interferences by geographic separation, so for example you don't have to tv stations operating on the same frequency in the same market. they are separated by geographic area and that helps manage interference. the other way you deal with interference is by keeping the similar uses pretty far apart so right now although wireless networks that operate at high power like lightsquared is proposing to do our very much further away from the gps band bend where lightsquared is proposing to use some satellite spectrum to provide terrestrial so it is really a very difficult interference and engineering problems because you have no geographic separation. the gps receiver could be right next door to a lightsquared rod casting tower and you have no separation in the frequency
band, so these transmissions are extremely close to the gps beyond and a combination of those two things present very serious interference and it also made it very difficult in generic problem to solve. >> host: is it not solvable in your view? >> guest: so, there has been progress made through some of the proposals. lightsquared his change the proposal multiple times over the last six or seven months and as they change the proposal to move further away in the spectrum band and also decrease their power they reduce the level of interference but no one has been able to conclude yet that they eliminated for critical uses like aviation, national security, precision agriculture and that is what the fcc has an ongoing study process to determine. the gps industry is fully participating in that study process and you know we are committed to working through the process and seeing if there is a solution. that solution really needs to be
very strongly demonstrated however before you take risks on things like aviation safety. >> host: mr. kirkland there have been some issues raised whether not the fcc and the ntia, noaa etc. are fully vetting lightsquared as they should. do you have the same concerns? >> guest: not currently. i think the fcc and the ntia both were unified in the last couple of weeks saying there will be more studies to determine this, and you know the right answer here is to complete that process and see you know if there aren't fact solutions that are proven to work. so far the technical evidence doesn't support that, but you know we are going to keep working on that. >> host: jim kirkland last week in our interview was with sanjiv ahuja with lightsquared to talk about the length of the process and here's what he had to say and we would like to get your response. >> since 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005,
some of these commercial device manufacturers, all of them have been aware that there is going to be the spectrum. if i look at it at my personal vantage point the manufacture of the product knew very well that there is a potential network coming in the neighborhood because it has been allocated and it has been allowed. the fcc has specifically specified the specifications of how that would look. i would make sure the device would -- 400 plus alien worked fine. >> host: jim kirkland? >> guest: so there is a lot packed in there. i think will i will start with what he said last and he said the foreign.million devices worked fine.
that is what the ntia said a couple of weeks ago and it requires more study so i think that remains to be seen. i think as far as what the fcc approved in the past, if you go back and look at the orders the spectrum they are proposing to use is mobile satellite spectrum so it was allocated to allow transmissions from a satellite from mobile communications purposes and in 2001 and 2003 with the fcc allowed was what they called ancillary terrestrial service and the point of all of that was to fill in the holes in the satellite footprints, so in urban areas there are what we call urban canyons where the satellite signals might be blocked by tall buildings and the fcc said well in order to improve the mobile satellite service we are going to allow them to build what they called fill-in transmitters on
the ground to help supplement the satellite services and that was all clear and the gps industry had a good relationship with lightsquared's predecessor. this is a new management team and new owners and so long as everyone understood that is what the terrestrial operations were four, the gps industry and the government agency and everyone was fine. i think what has happened now and november 2010 is lightsquared came forward and said we want to provide terrestrial only brought van service and we want to build a nationwide rock band network with 40,000 high-powered transmitters throughout the u.s. and that is definitely not what the commission authorized in 2001 and 2003. so of course gps manufacturers were not going to design their products contemplating something that simply wasn't authorized. and i think that is a keep point because once you understand what the fcc authorized in what the differences were, you also see
where the interference problem comes from because it is much more geographically ubiquitous, much higher power. basically trying to cover 92% of the population. >> host: finally jim kirkland, do you think lightsquared's concept needs to be junked? >> guest: not at all. i think what we need to do is demonstrate what power levels they can operate at, what spectrum they can operate at and it may be that the limits on the proposal need to be much better than what they have offered. i think that it's been a lot of the issues so far is how can they operate without causing interference to gps? and if that is proven, then i think everyone in the government and the gps industry will be happy to cooperate. so far it hasn't been proven. >> host: jim kirkland is the vice president general counsel of trimble navigation founding member of the coalition to save our gps, save our gps.org is the
web site. thank you mr. kirkland. up next, a political discussion about the issues surrounding lightsquared. and now joining us on "the communicators" is subfive. he is with i watch news where he is a senior reporter and he is also with the center for public integrity. mr. schulte, why has cpi been writing a series of articles and u.s. specifically been writing a series of articles about lightsquared and its white house connections. >> guest: my colleagues and i've been writing first of all about bundlers to the obama presidential campaign. those are donors to put together large groups of donations of $50,000 or more and maybe up to $500,000. and we are looking at what kind -- what they got and did they get anything for their money or were they getting jobs and getting access to the white house and were they getting contracts in that sort of thing. we have written a number of stories about a number of
different companies that have sort have been swept up in this whole political question. >> host: what did you find with regard to lightsquared in the white house? >> guest: lightsquared we originally brought about them with connection of one of our campaigners donald gibbs who was an investor in the company at the time and applied to get this waiver from the federal communications. president obama appointed julius genachowski to head the fcc so there was immediately a controversy when lightsquared try to come before them as to whether there was some politics at play. >> host: is it illegal to work with people who are friendly to your campaign? >> guest: no comment is not illegal at all but i think one of the bedrock coverage of the issue has been around the premise that when barack obama announced his candidacy as a presidential candidate one of the things he said is he was
going to and business as usual in washington and you know not let lobbyists have the run of the place and do these kinds of things. so, we thought well, given what we do at the center for public integrity, we have to look at what in fact happened with regard to major donors. >> host: did you find anything questionable mr. schulte and the e-mails between the white house and lightsquared that you would like to share? >> guest: well, we filed a freedom of information request act and got back a number of e-mails and a number of other records and we were a little bit surprised by the tone of the e-mails frankly that some of them -- they were very chatty in philly but the thing that really caught our eye was that representatives of lightsquared had said that their ceo was coming into town and wanted to have a meeting with them and he was going to be in town because he was going to
be participating in a fund-raiser with the president. on that same day, he did in fact give 30,000-dollar contributions so the way that was sort of subtly or not too subtly, depending on your point of view, links did raise some questions for us. >> host: well now best week we interviewed sanjiv ahuja the chairman and ceo of lightsquared and cecilia kang of the "washington post" was her guest reporter and she asked them specifically him specifically about these e-mails. >> how would you respond to questions raised by this center of public integrity that e-mails were exchanged and you know between white house officials and lightsquared officials to get meetings with white house personnel at the time when you are donating to campaigns, company officials were? >> cecilia when you are building a significant network and when
you are making a significant technology investment in a country, and you look at whether they are telecom operators, technology companies, you pick up the newspaper, open it, the ceos from all of these companies are meeting with various government officials. they have -- i have set up businesses in 30 countries. >> host: mr. schulte? what did you hear that answer? >> guest: well, what did he say? he didn't say anything about the campaign contributions. i mean i think he seems to be saying that this is sort of business as usual and you know we don't have a position on that one way or the other. like i said we started covering these kinds of issues because the candidate who became president of the united states in fact made an issue out of
access and people with a lot of money getting access to power in getting grants and that sort of thing and he said very clearly that wasn't going to happen in his administration, and you know i mean there is nothing illegal about giving a campaign contribution and it in fact be the business as usual but we cover the relationship between money and politics. he seems to be of knowledge and that there is one. >> host: so, what would you like to see done with this information that you have put out there on your web site and the best place to find that would be i watch news.org, correct? if people want to read these e-mails. what do you think should be done with this? should lightsquared be prohibited in your view from being allowed to build its network to cousin of its connections to the white house? >> guest: honestly i have no opinion on that and i don't think i could really do my job if i had an opinion on that because then i would give in to one side or the other. i mean, you think they're obviously are some people that
have some serious issues with lightsquared. i mean the center for public integrity, we are just covering the relationship between money and politics. >> host: and did you find that there were investors from the obama administration or campaign that were and -- that had invested in lightsquared's red assessor companies? what did you find? >> guest: senator obama himself at one time had investment in it. it is a company that has had a lot of people that were tied to the obama administration one way or another as investors were supporters of then again, in defense of them, you mean, they believed in what they were doing here. so sometimes you invest in things that you believe in, and sometimes there is a political angle to all that. >> host: will you continue to write about lightsquared as events unfold or is there something else you are writing about at the moment? >> guest: we don't usually discuss what we have got going on until we publish it at